Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ben and Andrew

Ben came for a visit today so Jon and I took the boys to the zoo. It was the birthday wagon's inaugural trip out in public, and it worked out famously - easy in, easy out, lots of space for hauling sippies, sunscreen, and the like. Everybody seemed to have a good time. The sea lion exhibit was being renovated, and watching the construction vehicles in action seemed to be the day's highlight for the boys - gofigure.

Monday, June 29, 2009

First Visit to the Dentist

Andrew saw his first-ever dentist this morning. It did not go exceptionally well; he was a little wigged out by the chair and the equipment so there was no cleaning to be done, just a little exploration of the torture devices tools with the very patient hygienist and then a quick once-over by the dentist himself. We'll take him back again when he's three (and is able to reason) and hope for the best then.

We are really impressed with our dentist, though... we weren't charged a penny for this visit since nothing really got accomplished (the crook we went to in Texas would have billed us for the office visit and probably the souvenir toothbrush, to boot). The office staff called it a "happy visit" and said its purpose was mainly to begin the process of getting him comfortable with the whole dental thing in general.

Thanks Miss Melissa and Dr. Finkel!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Back in Columbia

We made it home yesterday after 10 days, about 2500 miles round-trip, toddler and 3rd-trimester pregnant lady in tow. We saw lots of family and friends and had a really great time. Here are 5 of my favorite photos from the journey: (1) a candid nuclear family shot Christina took in our Sandwich, IL hotel, (2) Andrew snacking at the Krepps pool in Morgantown, WV, (3) Andrew and Jon's Grandpa Buck eye-to-eye (it really was love at first sight for those guys), (4) an adults' evening out at Oliverio's in Morgantown, one of our favorite restaurants, and (5) Andrew climbing on and inspecting my dad's grave in Mellin, WV.

All 70 photos are here on our Shutterfly site.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


We strapped the toddler into the car and crazily decided to drive north to WV and then IL for family visits. Thanks to Disney/Pixar's "Cars" movie, Andrew has done pretty well over the 1200 miles traveled so far. Here's a handful of favorite shots.

Visiting Dad's grave site at the Mellin Ridge in WV

4 Generations in Pennsboro, WV: Andrew, me, Mom, and Grandma Doak

Jon, Andrew, and Grandpa Buck in Sandwich, IL

With Auntie Christina at Gino's East in Chicago this afternoon

A great place to go when you want to be treated rudely on purpose: Chicago's Ed Debevic's

Friday, June 12, 2009

Goodbye, Drake (2000-2009)

I just received word that the world lost one of its greatest souls last month: Drake the Boxer. He would have been nine in July.

Drake belonged to one of my beloved clarinet student’s parents, and had been given to them by a family member who found him to be a little too much to handle. This is not at all surprising; Jon and I house-sat for my student’s family often with the main reason being that Drake needed people around him basically at all times, or else he turned to the dark side, exhibiting needy behaviors like eating couch cushions or other household items. Once, even while we were there, he handily destroyed a stuffed piranha his family had picked up on travels to Venezuela. When I sheepishly reported the loss to them, I was relieved to learn that the fish was not one of their most prized possessions, and also, thankfully, that they had purchased two; Drake’s mama then quickly returned from the attic with the identical spare.

What Drake lacked in predictable behavior, though, he definitely made up for in personality. He was one of those dogs whose eyes you would stare into and who would stare right back, seemingly looking right through you, studying you, reminding you that he, when he got right down to it, had your number and knew exactly what you were all about. He was hilarious and serious at the same time, a huge pile of furry love. And the aforementioned behavior issues were not often a problem, especially as he “grew up” to be the ripe old age of 3 or 4. From those years on, all objects in his family’s home could once again breathe a sigh of relief that they might indeed be spared from meeting a bitter end inside those gargantuan jowls.

This is one of my most favorite photos EVER: Jon attempting to look identical to Drake (circa March 2002). Our time spent with that dog has provided many happy memories over the years; we had just started dating a few months before and Drake-sitting together was great fun.

Our love for Drake, and we did love him, definitely inspired us to want a Boxer of our very own. So, we got one. Here’s our Dora (aptly named after the explorer) at the South Texas shelter on the day we adopted her in February of 2006.

We last saw Drake in December of that year on a trip to WV. Here are a couple of photos from that visit.

Dogs are such special, amazing family members. It is so very sad they can’t share humans' life expectancies; all the more reason we should cherish each and every moment with them. Before we know it, we’ll be faced with life without our furry companions.

Drake the Boxer: A good man who will be missed by all whose lives he touched in his gentle, entertaining, unique way.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

2nd Birthday Party Photos

We are so very lucky to have enjoyed great weather, family, friends and presents this afternoon. Everyone seemed to have a good time and we are all just one big tired pile of goo. Thanks to all the great folks who helped us celebrate, even if you were here only in thought. We truly appreciate everything. Skyping Grandma Cathy in CA while Grandma Diana looks on
The new Thomas Roundhouse - a huge hit. Thanks Aunt Phyl, Uncle Jack and Jean!
Opening presents from his friends
The big present from Mommy and Daddy - a two-speed, battery-powered John Deere
(yes, Cathy and Mom, we'll buy the kid a helmet!)
Matthew and Nicholas were about all partied out so they opted for some hammock time.

Grandma Diana's gift - a Radio Flyer

Wonderful day. Happy Birthday to our sweet boy.

Happy Birthday Baby Boy

My baby is 2 today. We have a big bash planned from 2-4. If we're all alive after 10+ sugar-loaded toddlers, I'll post pictures this evening.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hope and Progress

Here's a sunset across from our house a couple of nights ago. I took the pic because I thought the cloud on the left resembled a teddy bear looking to the right. By the time I grabbed the camera, it had morphed a little bit, but the gist is still there. Not too shabby a view from the ol' rental house, if you ask me.

Baby mockingbird report: Here they are this morning, sleeping away. They are looking much more like birds and much less like aliens. Maddie and Dora are still oblivious, thankfully. I have only been seeing three babies, so I hope the littlest guy is just hiding each time I have been peeking in, and that we're not dealing with a survival of the fittest situation here.

Finally, here's Andrew trying to get through his ABCs a couple of evenings ago (the video lasts just a little over 2 minutes). His speech is not where we think a 2-year-old's should be, so next week we have an assessment with a therapist who will hopefully end up coming to the house to work with him once a week. It can't hurt.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Counting My Blessings

Count your blessings. Aunt Phyl says this to me nearly every time we talk.

I wanted to put it in writing just now, because life is tending to get a little overwhelming as I ease into the glorious third trimester (well, easing about as much as, say, a whale might ease into a bikini...and this is not necessarily a random reference).

Things have been a little stressful lately; I've been working a lot (happy for the $ but it's mentally/physically draining), the kiddo's having a big 2-year-old birthday bash this weekend, we're embarking on a driving trip up north in a couple of weeks, and it seems the government's bailing out everyone but the Burbanks. Jon and I were even delusional enough to open a serious, strictly-financially-motivated discussion about moving back to South Texas. That lasted three days before we woke up. Clearly, minds have been lost around here.

In an effort to change my perspective, I have been trying hard to focus on the big picture (something that has always been difficult for me to do). Things are not bad for us. They are good. A little stress tends to keep a person on her toes and definitely helps to avoid boredom and complacency. I've been reading Bob and Lee Woodruff's In an Instant, the true account of ABC anchor Bob's horrible injuries sustained in 2006 while covering Iraq and their family's way of handling and overcoming the tragedy.

Aside from that extremely inspiring book, I recently learned of the untimely deaths of two former professional colleagues. I hadn't been close to them in years, but it hit me hard. Now, there is this lost Air France Flight 447.

All of these extreme tragedies can really make a person think about her own mortality and serve as an instant perspective-adjuster. In the grand scheme of things, life for us is good. We are lucky. We should embrace the minor life stresses that keep us going, and count our many blessings.

Thanks, Aunt Phyl.